Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now.
Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to pregnant women, small children and nursing mothers.
“The boy’s whites are reddish, like he has smoked cannabis, and I feel a sharp pain in my right eye… We have used up one bottle between the two of us,” a woman wrote in a Facebook group made up of users of the new substance. While many other users of TRS have complained of sore and reddish eyes, nose bleeds, abdominal pain, sniffles and cough accompanied by general ill-being, the side-effects are written off as positive signs of the detoxification process.
The Facebook group promoting the last infamous miracle cure MMS came under severe criticism, and it was clear by late summer it was on its way out. The health board shut down the group in early September and dealers went underground.
More expensive than MMS
Consultant at a company called Coral Club, balancing somewhere between multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes, Priit Neeme created a group promoting a new miracle cure called Advanced TRS on August 27. The substance can be ordered from the website of U.S. manufacturer Coseva, while Neeme seems to be the only reseller in Estonia. It is possible for anyone to sell the product, and Coseva’s website highlights seven ways of going about it.
The Facebook group for Advanced TRS in Estonia has seen 896 members join in five months. Around ten people have been joining the group daily in recent weeks. Even if the substance posed no health risks – which is unlikely, looking at its rather aggressive side-effects – its emergence constitutes another attempt of going after the money of people disappointed with ordinary medicine.
If the claimed cleansing power of TRS and MMS is similar, the latter was much cheaper. You could buy a 100-ml bottle of MMS for €25 that lasted a single person for at least three months. A 30-ml bottle of TRS costs around €60 and is only good for one month. Priit Neeme’s reply to people complaining over the price is that “not having your health will be even more expensive” and that he is sure there are cheaper ways of feeling better.
Postimees’ attempts to contact Neeme failed. The Facebook group was made secret a little later, meaning that ordinary users will no longer find it even if they use Facebook’s search function.
Advanced TRS is a sprayable product made up of distilled water and zeolites. Pharmacologist Anti Kalda said that zeolites are a group of minerals the main components in which are aluminosilicates.
“The effects of zeolite have been studied on test animals and include some uses in veterinary medicine. For example, a zeolite called clinoptilolite can be added to animal feed,” Kalda explained. He added that because tests involving humans have been very few, potential medical uses and toxicity in humans remains unknown.
After doing some research, Kalda found that the product has been registered as a food supplement in the USA, which does not mean its use is permitted in the EU. “It has not been deemed fit for treatment or prophylactic treatment. People who do that are risking their health,” the pharmacologist said.
Zeolites are used in soil conditioners, as an anti-coagulation agent in cat litter, water softeners in laundry detergents and in construction mixes. Õhtuleht recently wrote about a person who was allergic to zeolites and had a difficult time finding a laundry detergent that would not have that particular component.
Family doctor Piret Rospu said that zeolites are studied quite actively, especially in agriculture and nature conservation, but also veterinary and human medicine. These minerals are used in sponges designed to stop bleeding, absorbents used to protect the stomach and in hemodialysis and as pharmaceutical transporters than can take drug molecules where they need to go in the body. Because there have been no clinical trials on humans, use of the substance as medicine should be avoided.
“Animal testing has shown one particular zeolite – clinoptilolite – to be effective in treating lead poisoning, while some similar tests have been done on humans, but the substance has not been approved for clinical use yet,” Rospu explained. She added that there are dozens of heavy metals, and that it is unlikely a single substance could work on all of them.
Rospu explained that developing a drug is a lengthy process where in-vitro testing is followed by animal testing and only then clinical trials on humans. “The list of potential drugs that have shown promise in the Petri dish but have not produced the desired effect in humans or turned out to be dangerous instead is long indeed,” she said. The doctor added that various “herbal” preparations on sale have been found to contain molecules of prescription drugs, including those that have been banned, while Chinese medicine and Ayurveda preparations have contained large amounts of heavy metals.
“Virtually, what people selling zeolites hand to hand are saying is that they do not care for waiting for the results of clinical trials and rather diagnose and treat themselves and their children on their own. The multi-level marketing concept there says that the more “diagnoses” you dish out and the more “medicine” you sell, the more money you make. In the normal world, diagnoses and pharmaceutical sales are kept separate to avoid a conflict of interest,” the family doctor said.
Rospu is especially angered by the fact the substance is recommended to pregnant women. “Pregnancy is a time where all non-essential medical procedures are postponed. Without data from clinical trials, I would not recommend unlicensed products to anyone, especially more vulnerable groups, like pregnant women, children or the elderly,” she said.
Rospu explained that medicines aimed at children, pregnant women and nursing mothers have a separate test procedure, as is the case with drugs for patients with renal or liver insufficiency.
Because there is no quality control in place for TRS and tests have only been carried out by manufacturer Coseva, the health board cannot deem it safe to use.
“Neither the Estonian Health Board nor any competent agency we know of has tested the product,” said the agency’s head of communications Simmo Saar. He added that the substance is not a drug and its effects on human health are unknown.
“Looking for proof of the substance’s claimed properties, it simply cannot be found on the website – it is simply claimed there that the product has been developed by “experts” and the entire process is based on a “Coseva standard” the rest of the world knows nothing about,” Saar said.
The health board is especially worried by the fact the product is aimed at children. “These kinds of untested products must not be administered to children – in addition to the fact the active component’s behavior in the human body has not been studied, unreliable dosing recommendations found online could prove a further health risk,” Saar explained.
The public relations officer said that treatment of heavy metals poisoning is state-funded in Estonia. “Treating heavy metals poisoning can be done legally and using verified drugs, without the need to participate in pyramid schemes,” Saar added, and suggested people start with their family physician.